ANTs: Thinking With Your Heart

Reframing emotional reasoning

This card has generated the most requests for clarification. Some people have remarked, “Thinking with your heart seems like it would be a good thing, right?” So, the idea behind “thinking with your heart” or “thinking with your feelings”, as an automatic negative thought, is related to emotional reasoning. Here are a few examples:

I feel ugly, therefore I am ugly.

I feel unloved, therefore I am unloveable.

I feel hopeless, therefore my particular situation is hopeless.

These thoughts may arise from being self-critical or receiving criticism from a friend or loved one. Sometimes a series of events come together and result in an individual experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed. Any of these examples might inspire a person to process a situation using emotional reasoning. The problem comes when we allow these feelings to create unnecessary suffering, especially if the experience we perceive not true.

Notice that this ANT illustration features a heart with a crack right through its center. A third grade student, struggling with cycles of anxiety and depression, selected this card and told

me that his heart felt broken all the time. This young man had a lot of positives in his life and

he could tell me stories about love in his family and positive events in his life. He needed

help in reframing his perception of being unloved or unlovable when he experienced minor

criticism from a sibling, friend or parent.

One way to help a person reframe this ANT is using the questioning strategies on the back of each ANT card:

Is this ANT really true? This question inspires the person to search for evidence to disprove a thought or belief that is causing them discomfort or unhappiness.

How does this ANT make you feel? The ability to reflect on our negative and positive feelings and to name them can be very empowering. This self awareness is an important link in our ability to communicate our needs and feelings to others. This practice can in turn generate a sense of being understood and lead to a happier, healthier outlook on life.

Who would you be and how would you feel without this ANT? This question guides the individual in visualizing themselves without the suffering the ANT is creating in their experience.

Reflecting on these three questions can help change a individuals perspective and lead a person to the place of actually considering the opposite of the original idea or feeling. I am beautiful just as I am. I am loved and lovable. I can see hope in every situation.

Ant depicting 'Thinking with your heart': reframing emotional reasoning
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